Newsweek’s investigation into the hunt for bin Laden makes for excellent reading. It gives you a real sense of the trade-offs involving in trying to capture him while not losing large numbers of US troops or destabilising Pakistan. It is a surprise to find Don Rumsfeld who was so gung-ho in his Iraq war planning, acting as the voice of caution here.
One detail in the piece should guide us in the Iraq debate. Newsweek reports that:
“President Musharraf was wary of his American allies in the War on Terror. In 2002, he told a high-ranking British official: "My great concern is that one day the United States is going to desert me. They always desert their friends." According to this official, who declined to be identified sharing a confidence, Musharraf cited the U.S. pullouts from Vietnam in the 1970s, Lebanon in the 1980s and Somalia in the 1990s."
When you consider how many of the problems that the coalition has faced in Iraq stem from Bush senior’s disastrous decision to urge the Shi’ites to rise up in 1991 only to then allow Saddam to brutally put down this rebellion, one has to consider that a pull back from Iraq will create another narrative of betrayal that will make gaining cooperation in any subsequent venture even harder. Leaving Iraq anytime soon will foster the impression that America, and Britain too, is an unreliable friend.Tags: The week that was